Saturday, September 7, 2013

AYP Research Mission Entry Ten (July 26, 2013) One Starfish at a Time…. Africa Yoga Project Research Mission Blog 7/26/2013

Entry Ten (July 26, 2013)

 Today we began the day with a centering meeting. No need for AM yoga because later we were to do Dance Your Yoga with Billy Sadia. We discussed the 21st mile and staying strong whether or not your body, mental clarity, and/or emotional regulation is at 100%. After breakfast, we headed out to Giavanna School for the Deaf. The school is called the school of affection and also services children with autism. The Phase II process involved sorting and rating, requires concentration, and an understanding of the process. We worked through interpreters and with patience the children were able to rate the items and sort the items into piles. I was so moved by how long and hard they worked. I know the research team was working very hard as well.  
 After a break at the mall and some food, we headed out to Rehema School in Kariobangi. We got there a little after 3:00 PM and the kids were waiting. They cheered when we walked in and it was FUN! After a short yoga session we began Phase II with the children. There were 60 kids in a one-room classroom and another 10 or so children under 9 who were in need of attention while we were there. Susan and Steve taught the under 9 kids yoga, acro yoga, and lots of fun stuff for a few hours. The rest of the team worked with the 60 kids completing Phase II. These little ones wanted to help so much. The whole environment was a challenge, space, noise, number of adults to children ratio, Swahili to English, the whole thing. In the sea of these gorgeous, happy children, I recalled a short story that is a favorite of one of one my colleagues at UB-

The Man and the Starfish.
 “Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.
 One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.
 As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.
 He came closer still and called out “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”
 The young man paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”
 “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.
 To this, the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”
 Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”
 At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said,
“It made a difference for that one.”
 I found one child and sat down and worked with her. I went through each item with her and helped her think through sorting. Together she and I completed her sorting. I put all of her work in her packet, we smiled at each other, and I gave her a huge THANK YOU. I stood up and found the next little one who needed help. We sat down and went through his cards one by one. Then the next child and the next child. One beautiful little one at a time.
 Things can seem impossible sometimes. So much to be done and only one of you. Don’t let this stop you. Don’t let the belief that the mission is too big or too complicated get in your way. Get into your feet, your breath, and take one step forward. Any one action (big or small) of being there for others is powerful, so very powerful just as it is.
 Each child that was able to sit with one of us, was able to spend time being heard and seen. Each child that was able to spend time with one of us, got to see that his or her ideas about yoga and his or her ideas about life experience are important, really important.
 In the state of being overwhelmed, we sometimes lose sight of the power of our tiny steps in toward what is needed.
 The day ended with Dance Your Yoga. We LOVED it. Billy was wonderful, fun, and inspiring. It was also a fantastic workout. I have not done any African dancing in years and it felt amazing in  my body. We are back in our room now after a late Gracia Garden’s dinner. The materials are ready for tomorrow.
 Tomorrow– I will be heading out to do my research– one starfish at a time.
 I am thankful today for Candice Cinquino and her Yoga Jam efforts. She raised $5,000 of the money that we needed to get her during her YOGA JAM Buffalo. Thank you  Candice!
 I miss Chloe and Maya.

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